You can rely on Eddie Robson to find an unexpected angle on a story, and in the third in the River Song meets the Masters boxset, The Lifeboat and The Deathboat he does just that. This time it’s the Eric Roberts Master making a first (please not his only) appearance in a Big Finish story as we find out what it takes to survive when cut adrift in the vortex.
The Lifeboat and the Deathboat
The product page gives the usual deceptive summary:
Stranded in the Vortex, a father and daughter do their best to survive, living on salvage in a ramshackle vessel.
Elsewhere, an obsessive ship’s captain hunts down a vengeful monster, whatever the cost.
And River is caught between them, uncovering an old enemy in the most unexpected new guise.
There are several surprises in store, but the fact we know the Master is present means that is no surprise to us, even if River is caught unawares. Eric Roberts is a terrific presence on audio and it’s great to hear him working on a Big Finish story. The setup is deceptively clean: a lost family in the Vortex and a ship’s captain stuck in a science fiction version of Moby Dick. Add a few other characters and some close shaves (and another psychopath for fun) and it’s a very good piece of writing with an off-beat ending.
I was particularly impressed with Sasha Behar as Admiral Eno, Lucy Heath as daughter Alison though did need more of the wonderfully named Kaliopi Mileska to get a real handle on her character and Eleanor Crooks’ performance. No issues apart from her character being limited to one section of the story.
Eddie Robson’s imagination is to be admired in the setup of a drifting collection of wrecks in the Vortex and River is very hands on in this story surviving with everyone else. It’s far less of an exploration of moral ambivalence than the previous two stories in this set instead it presents the Master from an unexpected angle, leaving us to wonder just what is going on. It’s a less energetic story in some senses than the others but intriguing.